Brave Faces in Gaddafi’s war on his own people @WheelerTweetsA Point of View, Libya, Middle East & North Africa, Military, Politics | WheelerTweets | July 6, 2011 at 10:05
This is Mohammed. 9 yrs old. He was hit by a GaddafiÂ Grad while playing outside his house at 5 pm on June 5 in Zintan Libya.Â His left hand and two toes were ripped off in the blast. His face was pummeled. A piece of shrapnel remains in his eye.
I’ll never forget the way Mohammed looks at his left arm and feels it with his right hand during quiet moments.
The photo below of the kid in the saucy Free Libya hat with two damaged hands is 14 year-old Ahmed Algtani from Ajdabiya, LibyaÂ in a Tunisian hospital. Kids like Ahmed didn’t volunteer for anything and they don’t deserve this. Pain and depression show clearly on their faces until we can coax them to smile.
On June 19, Ahmed was in bed toying with part of a cluster bomb he’d found in the street. It exploded in his hands.Â Ahmed’s left hand was amputated. Part of his right hand is gone. His groin and both thighs have massive injuries.
Below is Ahmed Algtani’s brother Suleiman. 11 yrs old hit with shrapnel in his shoulder and the middle of his back. The shrapnel in his spine is still there. Â Docs say it’d be worse to remove it than to leave it. A little feeling is coming back to his legs. Chance he may walk again.Â What a tragedy for this family. Imagine the pain of their mother.
Suleiman was getting up to use the toilet when the explosion occurred.Â The cluster bomb fragment that Ahmed Algtani found in the street exploded at about 12:30am on June 19. He and his brother Suleiman went to the Ajdabiya hospital and were immediately transferred to Benghazi. On June 22, they flew to Tunis with their mother and older brother.
It took some work from his uncle and me to get that weak but heart-breaking smile. He’s in pain. Mental and physical. These two boys will definitely get some treats. Even if the gift box doesn’t get thru customs until the wheel of time turns to a new age.
I’ve visited and worked with plenty of disabled veterans in the US. Many have regrets and mixed feelings about what they were fighting for.Â Getting injured on foreign soil for disputed political goals is tough, no matter how much zeal you start with.
But I’ve yet to meet an injured Libyan FF who is depressed or says they would not do it all over again. That’s sustainable energy.Â Yes. Without a single exception. Some even insist on going back before their splints are off. To help protect their people.
The photo of the four brave guys is from the Tunisian hospital.Â Left to right: Hosam 14, Mohammed 22, Rida 25, Ridwan 21. All from Kikla, Libya.
Rida was operating a 14.5mm. It jammed so he got another. He was trying to find the best position for it when three of Gaddafi’s men opened fire. The Gaddafi solider shot Rida’s left arm multiple times, till the bone was severed and it was hanging by shreds of skin. He had been paid 50,000 Libyan dinars.
The guy who looks like a mummy giving the Victory “V” is Walid. Prior to this latest nerve graft surgery, he was staying at a flat I’ve been sharing. My roommates include three other Misrata FFs injured in the same battle.
Hospital stays are kept short and the injured stay in nearby rented flats to try to keep costs down. The expenses are being paid PRIVATELY – not by the TNC or the UN or charity groups. Funds are scarce and dwindling, so cost control is vital.
When I walk into Walid’s room, his face lights up. He says I’m a friend forever. His halting, raspy English is music to my ears. The shrapnel still in his throat makes it hard for him to talk. It might stay that way for quite a while.
An injured FF at the hospital tonight wanted to see all of my photos. He spotted his brother in a Shakshuk pic and his cousin’s truck in another.
It is a privilege to meet every one of these brave Libyans and tell a bit of their stories. There’s a rush of emotion seeing them, and then again reliving it to tell people who aren’t here. Â There’s much to say beyond Twitter.
note: the above article is compiled from tweets from James Wheeler, an American hero in Libya doing everything he can to help the Libyan people realize their dream of a life of dignity. FREE LIBYA!!!
You can follow James Wheeler on twitter @WheelerTweets